Today, as I was reading The Rochester Review (published by The University of Rochester), an article brought social issues to my attention. I read about how U of R college students protested against police brutality and the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and I asked myself, “Where do I stand? What are my feelings and opinions about police to minority interactions? Am I afraid of racism or the police?”
Sometimes, being in upstate New York, I forget about racism. Yes, I am an African American girl with a head full of dreadlocks, but I know the people I interact with see I’m more than that. I act as if I am because I really am, and I think people pick up on that and treat me like a human being, not according to my complexion. I can forget about the physical differences and the stereotypes we’re supposed to be. Like the “black activist” black girl, that’s just not me – but power to you if you are! I mean that.
I have friends from many different nations and we get along swell here in our little college town.
The only time I’m made aware of my stereotype is when strange incidents happen, like, when a girl walks into the rest room, sees me, stares an extra second too long, perhaps judging weather it’s safe or not for them to stay, then realizes it’s too late to leave the bathroom without being rude, so they continue to walk in (taking their chances I imagine…risky business you know), and use the bathroom. At that moment I put on a quick smile, finish washing my hands because all I want to do is scramble outta there as fast as I can. I’m never 100% sure if prejudices exist in every moment like that, I just have my instincts to rely on. But I don’t let things like that dictate how I live and how I communicate with different people.
I hope that my character shines through my physicality for the rest of my life, but as I see what’s happening in the world I do harbor a small fear. What if people treat me with racism after college? What if I’m stereotyped then? I feel sad when I think of Trayvon Martin, who was labeled “suspicious” just because he was an African American boy wearing a hood. That makes me want to dress up in the most suspicious manner possible and be as cheerful as I can just to teach society a lesson.
Well, I’m done with this ramble for now. Come back next week!